Who will hold Daniel Snyder responsible for his misdeeds?
The fanbase of the dreary team he’s owned since 1999, now known as the Washington Commanders, which has long been the league’s Animal House?
By Thursday, Snyder had done everything he could to arm the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which has been investigating his team for nearly a year. Instead of appearing before the committee, he dragged, challenged and asked his legal team to withdraw all delaying orders. He declined to attend the June hearing where NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sat down and faced the committee grills.
Then, dodging the subpoena, he sailed off into the sunset, out of the country, away from the prying eyes of Congress.
Finally, on Thursday, he gave in – but only halfway. Snyder agreed to speak to the committee by videoconference from overseas. On his behalf, his legal team did everything to set the parameters. He decided to speak but not under the restrictive power of a subpoena, which would have made it harder to avoid telling the truth. He “volunteered” to answer any questions he was willing to answer.
And, unlike the congressional hearings we’ve seen on television, this hour-long question-and-answer session was not televised. Transcripts may be provided at some point, but it’s unclear what portion of the audience they will capture and when they will be released.
Snyder, who possesses a sort of hubris that drives petty dictators, scoffs at an investigation into a culture that has marked lives. Cheerleaders Snyder and other members of the squad reportedly treated them with misogynistic contempt. The marketing and events coordinator who told Congress she was physically harassed by Snyder. The team employee who, according to The Washington Post, accused Snyder of sexual harassment and assault before reaching a $1.6 million settlement. These examples are only a sample.
Who, exactly, is running this show? Who is Snyder?
Congress finds itself paralyzed by its recalcitrance and its own inability to shape private affairs. Public humiliation seems to be the committee’s only recourse.
The NFL should hold Snyder to account, but Snyder is a member of the (mostly) billionaire boys club that runs the league. This group doesn’t seem too keen on punishing any of its own. The ban, forcing Snyder to sell his team, is currently a bridge too far for this privileged and isolated clique.
Investigating Snyder, trying to corner him and make him accept responsibility for his team’s culture and misdeeds, has become a theater of the absurd.
As it embarked on an eight-month investigation into how commanders and the NFL were handling accusations of widespread sexual harassment of female team employees, the committee beckoned Snyder with a polite invitation. When it became clear that he was not going to cooperate without pressure, the committee threatened to subpoena Snyder and force him to testify under oath.
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But Snyder was nowhere to be found. At least not in the United States.
Representatives for Snyder said he left to do some long-planned business in Europe – and then traveled to Israel to commemorate the first anniversary of his mother’s death. Oh, the old defense: “I’m too busy to accept your subpoena.”
A Twitter account appeared on the Internet: Dan Snyder’s Tracker followed his floating villa – the Lady S., 305 feet long, filled with IMAX theater and helipad – as he sailed foreign seas.
The yacht is in Monaco!
No, it’s off the island of Elba, Italy!
No, it sails at 13.3 knots and Pisa, in Italy!
Was he even on his massive yacht as he floated around the Mediterranean?
Had he taken his private plane to Europe?
What a tricky trick. But how can we be surprised? The Washington owner hardly has a reputation for being an upright guy shrouded in straightness.
Gallons of ink have been spilled and digital space used to catalog the off-field issues and allegations that plagued the Washington football team under Snyder.
Commanders’ leaders, and Snyder himself, have been accused of rampant sexual harassment of female employees, not to mention financial improprieties and verbal abuse. The claims cover 18 of the 23 years that Snyder owned the team.
In his June testimony before the committee, Goodell – who ordered a second investigation into the commanders – said Snyder had already been held accountable after the first. The owner agreed to stay out of the team’s day-to-day operations for a time, and the team paid a league-record $10 million in penalties.
What a scam.
Snyder had a great vacation – although it’s unclear if he’ll be back to minding the day-to-day business of the team now that training camp has begun.
And does Goodell honestly think Snyder, who is said to be worth $40 billion, will sweat over $10 million? For him, 10 million dollars does not represent as much as a slap on the wrist. It’s not even a flea bite.
Goodell and the NFL seem content to sell the narrative that all is well in Washington now. Snyder’s team, after all, has hired a diverse and well-respected new staff led by chairman Jason Wright and one-man coach Ron Rivera.
But who writes the checks for new recruits? Snyder. Everyone employed in this operation is struggling at his request.
Goodell’s narrative bears no water. The congressional committee went public last month that it found Snyder interfered with the NFL investigation through a campaign of witness intimidation. Snyder’s warrant officers compiled a dossier of those who shared allegations of harassment against commanders with the press.
So, we all have to believe the NFL story: it’s not your dad’s Washington football team. Say it enough times, and maybe you’ll believe it.
Forcing Snyder to sell would be the only punishment with teeth. But Goodell was quick to remind us that he couldn’t make such a move alone. “I don’t have the power,” he told Congress in June.
Which does? The other owners. To remove Snyder, 75% of them would have to vote for it. Owners know Snyder would entangle the NFL with lawsuits from here to eternity. You can be sure that many don’t want the tables turned and prying eyes put on them and their business practices.
And continue the show. Snyder, president of Animal House, is always able to make everyone around him react and respond to his whims. Thursday was the congressional committee.
Will anyone have the nerve to step in and stop this sordid spectacle?